In the Locker Room with Sarah Biasello and Andrew Brabson


Yushu Liu

Sarah Biasello (left) and Andrew Brabson

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with Head Swimming and Diving Coach Andrew Brabson and Assistant Swimming and Diving Coach Sarah Biasello to discuss what it’s like being a young coach, how they’ve adjusted to life at Oberlin and at what time they get up in the morning.

How has the season gone thus far?

Andrew Brabson: So far, the season has gone extremely well. Training-wise and meet-wise, we’re way ahead of where we were last year. I think the midseason invite we had last week was a clear indication of that. There were two school records on the women’s side and a bunch of lifetime bests. Overall, I’m really happy about the direction we’re going and where we are right now.

Sarah Biasello: Coming into this [season], I wasn’t really sure where the team was at. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m really impressed with what they’re doing, and I know they’ve done a lot better than they did last year, so I’m just happy to be a part of it.

How have your own college experiences affected the way you coach?

AB: I try to make sure that when we’re running practices, the swimmers know exactly what they’re getting out of the sets that we’re writing. At a highly academic school like Oberlin, people want to know why they’re doing something, and a lot of times when I was in college, it was just, “Do this because we’re telling you to do it.”

SB: I didn’t have the most positive college experience the whole way through, so one thing for me is that in everything I do, I try to make sure my swimmers are happy and they know that they can always come to me for anything.

Has it been hard adjusting to life in Oberlin?

AB: I was familiar with Oberlin coming in because I swam for Denison, but I think just getting adjusted to telling people why I was giving them instructions was tough. Having that NCAC background, I knew what I was getting into, though.

SB: I was not familiar with Oberlin, and it was a pretty big adjustment — not in a bad way, but it’s a culture that I wasn’t used to. I really respect the kids for how much they care about school and how much they prioritize it.

How helpful are the team captains in communicating with other teammates?

AB: The main role of our team captains is to give us the opportunity to communicate with our whole team when we don’t necessarily have the time to meet with everyone individually or as a group. It’s a nice way to disseminate information to the team without actually having a team meeting. It’s also a good way for them to give us feedback so we can see what the general mindset of the team is.

What are your strengths as a coach?

AB: Both of us have a pretty well-rounded grasp on sprint, mid-distance, distance groups and all the different strokes. We were both [individual medley swimmers] in college, both breaststrokers as well, and I think having that IM background gives us a nice background to correct strokes for all four strokes.

SB: We’re both young coaches, and I think we’re both good at taking feedback and open to learning new things. We’re not stuck in one way of coaching or anything like that.

Both of you are still relatively young. Do you feel like that helps you better connect to students?

AB: We can relate a little bit more to what they’re going through as far as training and stressors in the academic environment and just general stressors of being an 18- to 22-year-old college student. We’re not that far removed from undergrad, and I think both in terms of swimming and being that age, we can relate a little more to that.

SB: I don’t feel that far out of college; sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I think it helps when trying to understand where the athletes are coming from as far as a swimming perspective.

What would you like the team to improve on going forward?

AB: All these kids’ minds are constantly thinking about different things, and you can do that in practice, but when you get to a meet, you just have to turn your mind off and focus on racing the people next to you. It should all be muscle memory by that point. Sometimes you can think too much, and you have to turn your mind off and let your body do the work.

SB: Mental toughness and overall positivity when things don’t go their way. That’s a thing the team as a whole can improve on.

How has this year’s team changed since the start of the year?

AB: Just in a year, we’ve upped the intensity of our workouts a lot. There is definitely a bit of a shift in terms of being able to actually see the results of the hard work paying off and seeing that next level.

SB: It’s a really long season, and I think they’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In practice, everyone is real excited, especially after the success of our last meet.

How is the recruiting process going?

AB: It’s been a lot better than last year. I was basically doing it by myself last year, and I came in pretty late. This year, visits have been up by quite a bit. Our recruiting base has picked up a lot, and having Sarah on as a full-time assistant has helped quite a bit. Having a full year here, I really understand what kind of person wants to come here.

SB: It’s going really well as far as the types of kids we are recruiting. They are really talented swimmers. It’s just down to kids committing at this point.

What time do you wake up to make it to 6 a.m. practice every morning?

AB: I live in Lakewood, so I have a bit of a commute, and I wake up at 5 a.m.

SB: Andy has to get up earlier than I do. I live about two minutes away, so I wake up at 5:50 sometimes. I plan it really well.